Hand Sanitizer Fire Project

Do you want to do a project that is simple and ends up looking really awesome?!  Then make a trail of colored fire!  This cool experiment can be done with household materials and take a long time!  If you want to see what rainbow fire looks like, try this experiment!

WARNING:

ALWAYS WEAR SAFETY GOGGLES AND GLOVES

DO UNDER PARENTAL SUPERVISION

DO IN A FIRE-SAFE AREA

Materials

  • Hand sanitizer (around 65% alcohol)
  • Strontium salt (take from the inside of an emergency flare) – red
  • Mix red and tiny amount of yellow chemicals – orange
  • Table salt – sodium chloride – yellow
  • Boric acid or borax or copper sulfate – green 
  • Salt substitute – potassium chloride – violet
  • (Blue is the natural color of the flame)

Set Up the Demo

  1. You can use any fire-safe surface. It’s nice to use a container with a lip because the hand sanitizer will run and can make a mess.
  2. Sprinkle a small amount of each chemical in a line running across your dish. You can mix the colors, but be aware some emission spectra are much stronger than others. For example, any contamination of the other colors with the sopurple-fire-56a12a275f9b58b7d0bca884dium from table salt will turn your flame mostly yellow, regardless of the other salts that are present.
  3. When you are ready to perform the demonstration, pump a layer of hand sanitizer across the salts.
  4. Dim the lights.
  5. Use a long match or long handled lighter to ignite one end of the gel. The flame will spread across, displaying all the colors.
  6. Now, the nice thing about hand sanitizer is it’s mostly water. The flame goes out as soon as enough alcohol burns off to make the gel watery enough to extinguish the fire.  It doesn’t take long.
  7. If you want to re-start the demonstration, wait until the flame is out.  (Don’t add fuel to a burning fire and expect good things to happen.)  Once the flame is out, you can apply more hand sanitizer and light it. You do not need to add more salts.

Adapted from: https://sciencenotes.org/safe-method-of-doing-the-colored-flames-chemistry-demonstration/

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